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November 8, 2005

ObjectWeb and Chinese consortium agree to collaborate

In an agreement announced late last week, two consortia representing European and Chinese open source constituencies have said they intend to converge middleware technologies.

By CBR Staff Writer

ObjectWeb, best known for the JOnAS Java appserver, JORAM JMS, and more recently, the Celtix ESB (enterprise service bus) projects, has signed an agreement with OrientWare, a group representing several leading Chinese university research labs and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, to build common open source middleware components.

Until now, both organizations were active in Java appserver, CORBA, and web services bus technology development. According to Jean Pierre Laisne, chairman of ObjectWeb, the goal is to eventually merge the technology bases.

We see this as an attempt to leapfrog, because otherwise, we could not compete independently against companies like IBM or BEA, he said.

Under the agreement, both organizations will share technology under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL), a vendor-friendly open source license that allows developers to retain intellectual property rights to their innovations.

By promoting LGPL in China, both groups hope to stimulate open source development in a region that still battles software piracy.

At first glance, it would be logical to conclude that the free licenses typically associated with open source would eliminate the problem of piracy, but in practice both groups still deem it an issue.

According to Laisne, piracy could cause unwanted forking of the code base, thereby defeating the purpose of open standards.

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Significantly, the agreements represent a top-down approach to open source development that is at odds with its grass roots lineage. However, Laisne points out, projects such as Eclipse, which spun out of an IBM initiative, are also top-down affairs, which have proven to be effective.

Going forward, in year one, the goal is to establish the necessary collaborative environment. After that, technology exchange of projects such as JOnAS and JORAM with comparable OrientWare efforts in CORBA, J2EE, TP-Monitor, Portal and Workflow.

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